Graf, Herbert (1904-1973)

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GRAF, HERBERT (1904-1973)

Herbert Graf is broadly known in psychoanalysis by the name of "Little Hans." Born on April 10, 1904 in Vienna, he died on April 5, 1973 in Geneva.

Graf was the Stage Director at the Metropolitan Opera in New York 1936-1960, and Director of the Grand Theatre in Geneva (1965-1973). He also authored several books on opera production in America.

The son of Max Graf, musicologist and critic, and Olga Graf (nee Hoenig), apparently a one-time patient of Freud's, Herbert Graf grew up in the avant-garde intellectual atmosphere of fin de siecle Vienna. His godfather was Gustav Mahler. He describes, in a four part interview with Francis Rizzo later in life, how he "invented" his study program in order to become an opera director, for which there was at that time no prescribed curriculum.

In 1922 Freud published a postcript to "Analysis of a Phobia in a Five-year old Boy" in which he describes a visit from "Little Hans" when he was a young man. Graf himself refers to this visit in the Rizzo interviews and reports that he had no recollection of the treatment until he came across Freud's paper in his father's study. Several place names that Freud had not altered led him to believe that the article referred to him. He sought Freud out in Berggasse 19 and the meeting is described in Freud's publication.

Graf's publications were not in the field of psychoanalysis. The interviews with Rizzo are interesting for the light they shed on the attitudes towards Freud's theories amongst intellectuals in Vienna in the early part of the twentieth century. Graf's later biography had no relevance to psychoanalysis. As "Little Hans" he was of fundamental importance. His treatment was the very first example of a child analysis, although an unusual one, as it was carried out by his father under Freud's "supervision."

Veronika MÄchtlinger

See also: "Analysis of a Phobia in a Five-year-old Boy" (Little Hans); Graf, Max.


Freud, Sigmund. (1909b). Analysis of a phobia in a five-year-old boy. SE, 10: 1-149.

. (1922c). Postscript. SE. 10: 148.

Rizzo, Francis. (1972). Memoirs of an invisible man; Herbert Graf recalls a half-century in the theater: a dialogue with Francis Rizzo, interview, with 12 illustrations and 2 sketches. Opera News 36, part I, 5 Feb. 1972, p. 24-28 ; part II : 12 Feb. 1972, p. 26-29 ; part III : 19 Feb. 1972, p. 26-29 ; part IV : 26 Feb. 1972, p. 26-29.